Wishful Shrinking? The risks of fad diets

Wishful Shrinking? The risks of fad diets

As summer approaches, many of us will have lots to look forward to: maybe beachy holidays, family gatherings, weddings or indeed a Graduation!

For these occasions it is natural that we want to look our best, and some of us may decide that this includes losing a little weight.

We are exposed to countless features online and in magazines promoting the latest trendy diets, with celebrities endorsing fads such as ‘No Dairy’, ‘Low-carb’ and ‘Clean Eating’, as a quick-fix solution to looking leaner and feeling great.

But can they work? And how safe are they?

Cutting out food groups

Many mistakenly believe that cutting out certain food groups (i.e. ‘No Carbs Before Marbs’) will enable them to lose weight more effectively or detoxify their system, but in reality this could actually be doing more harm than good.

By eliminating things like carbohydrates, dairy or fats from our diets, we increase the risk of serious nutrient deficiencies, and are likely to suffer from ailments such as headaches, weakness, nausea, dehydration, dizziness and irritability.

Clean Eating

The term ‘clean eating’ has surged in popularity, originally used to describe eating wholesome and often plant-based foods. However, the movement has received wide criticism due to its ambiguity. Dimple Thakrar, a dietician at Fresh Nutrition and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association says the main issue with clean eating is the lack of clarity around its meaning.

“There is no clear definition of clean-eating and is therefore open to misinterpretation and can be taken to the extreme. It is not evidence-based nutrition and is often advocated by unqualified people and can therefore be potentially dangerous”.

Juice Cleansing

You may have seen people on social media selling fashionable juice cleanses such as Juice Plus and Aloe Vera, purporting them to be the fastest way to get your body ‘Instagram-ready’. However these juices may in fact have the exact opposite effect #awks! Typically these ‘cleanses’ heavily restrict calorie intake to encourage weight loss, but people who follow these cleanses tend to put the weight straight back on as soon as they finish, leaving themselves at risk of developing deficiencies. Juices are also usually low in protein. When we don’t have adequate protein in our body, it breaks down muscle tissue instead meaning cleanses can actually cause you to lose muscle, not fat.

Conclusion-fad is bad

Whilst the thought of a fuss-free, near instant fix to getting the body we want is nice, the reality is there is no magic formula or hidden secret. The safest and most effective method of ensuring good health is to follow a nutritionally-balanced diet combined with regular exercise. It may be boring, but it no doubt guarantees you’ll be healthy AND happy!


Just for fun, we also took a look at some of the more ridiculous diet fads out there:

  • The Vision-Dieter Glasses diet
    Somebody came up with the idea of designing glasses with a blue tint to the lenses that made food look unappealing to the wearer (!).
  • The Diet Fork
    Just as silly as the vision-dieter glasses. If your fork is small, your food portions will be small too, right? Wow.
  •  The Sleeping Beauty Diet
    Elvis Presley was said to be an advocate of this diet in the 1970s. Described as sleeping off unwanted pounds, you can sedate yourself for several days and lose weight at the same time. Another excuse for a lie-in!


If you’re hungry for more information or advice about health and wellbeing, Student Support services are available at all 3 of our campuses: CU Coventry, CU London and CU Scarborough.